Amega AgriVikas convention involving farmers, agri-businesses was inaugurated by three central ministers who stressed on technology, national agricultural market and global demand for produce of the country, particularly states like Odisha.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said, “Around 22,000 rural agriculture markets will be linked to make a national agricultural market by 2020.” The existing 22,000 rural haats will be connected with e- National Agriculture Market, he added.

Emphasising on entrepreneurship development in the agri sector, he said states like Odisha have immense potential to make inroads in the global market but sadly this has not been so and plight of farmers in the state is deplorable.

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said technology and innovation can be a real game-changer for the agriculture sector in Odisha.

Outdated labour intensive and water guzzling methods have to be given up and farmers equipped with latest techniques, they need to skill themselves, he said while lamenting that Odisha has lagged far behind in the sector. In fact all the three central ministers took jibes at the Naveen Patnaik government for his failures.

The pest attack last year exposed how farmers of Odisha were ignorant and had not been informed about the pesticides to use or the manner it should be sprayed said Mr Shekhawat. Pradhan took remarked that his letter to the CM for an appointment for export opportunities of agri products and food processing was ignored and he was indirectly told that he needs to route all such proposals through the Agriculture Ministry.

On the sidelines of the venue, they were more caustic referring to how the Naveen Patnaik government was antifarmer, anti-youth and had even failed to protect the treasure of Lord Jagannath temple ( keys of Ratna Bhandar going missing). At the convention, Union MSME Minister Giriraj Singh said women workforce has to be increased for the growth of the country.

“There has been a rise in production of many agricultural products in Odisha but farmers here still depend on other states for other essential goods. It has come as a challenge for Odisha to attract market for the surplus produced goods,” said Singh.

He cited the instance of Kandhamal district’s turmeric which has an international market that could benefit farmers of the region. The mismatch is glaring – production is high in Odisha, yet the people depend on essentials from other states and farmers are in distress, he remarked.

The convention and exhibition held at SOA University campus witnessed participation by over 700 farmers and other agri entrepreneurs. Trilochan Mahapatra, Secretary, Department of Agricultural research and Education and Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and P. Chandrasekhar, Director General NIAM were also present.

The event focussed on value-addition and agripreneurship, as envisaged by Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Gajendra Singh Sekhawat said how more than two lakh students are focused on agriculture and farm sector development in India.